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4.4 out of 5 stars
House of Blades (The Traveler's Gate Trilogy) (Volume 1)
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139 of 156 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you like epic fantasy, this book is a buy-now. Reminiscent of the Malazan series, with imagination at least on par with Sanderson, this book delivers the goods.

There's really so little originality in most epic fantasy - and self published epic fantasy is usually derivative dreck. Watered-down AD&D with English or American names, the obligatory pub scene, the Larry Sue hero who grows up a humble youth but rapidly becomes a master at swordplay or magic or both when his hands are first put to it. . . Dragons and evil sorcerers who grow mustaches because one looks ridiculous twirling empty air around one's mouth. Brawny fighters, studious mages, and bow-wielding rangers who speak with some attempt at an Irish or Scottish accent. (I blame youuuuuuu, Salvatore!) Evil, usurping kings and brave rebels and the Lost Heir to the Throne of Somewhere. (Who is usually the main character.)

Some (most?) self-published writers think that you don't need a truly good story so long as you have the trappings. Not this book. Not this author.

The dialogue is great. The action is great. The characters are actually three dimensional, and nothing is quite what it seems nor is anyone as good - or bad as one would think after reading the usual crap tropes from the usual crap writers. The plot is solid - this author really put a lot of thought into this book.

This is my favorite book of the year so far. (I'm always holding out hope.) Spend your money - and your time - on this novel. You won't regret it. I'll be first in line for the sequel.
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47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I must say I found this book refreshing, exhilarating and hilarious. The tale is of two boys who set off to rescue their village and a certain pretty princess. Now don't cringe like I did when I read "rescue princess". This is no fairytale fantasy. The dashing hero although all things heroic (prophesy, sword, powers, character, looks, and all) is not who you will be rooting for and the princess might not want to be rescued. Cue in the thoroughly drab village boy who finds his un-prophesied self smack dab in the middle of history making times.

I loved this book because the protagonist EARNED his place in the story. Furthermore, the author managed to capture the hilarious thoughts that must go through the OTHER village boy's head when THE village boy is suddenly discovered as all powerful. I chuckled my way through every conversation between them. There were mysteries, revelations and a cast of vivid supporting characters. I enjoyed this book a lot and will be eagerly awaiting the sequel. Kudos to the author!
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The book hits the ground running with action never in short supply. The book follows the story line primarily of Simon and Alin with Leah thrown is as a twist. This might contain a few spoilers so please read forward at your own risk.

Basic Overview of the Book:
The book shows these two boys on two different paths to save a "Princess" figure that is Leah. Simon is the dark hero of the story who is led by his desire to stand up for himself and to save Leah. Alin is a prophesied figure that is hot headed and driven by his desire for glory in saving Leah. The book shows there development whether it be physical or mental to accomplish the rescue of Leah with a large majority of the focus on Simon. During all of this they manage to entangle themselves in a clash of two empires, the Enosh and Damascus.

Character Development:
The character development is an ongoing process that is easily seen in characters. The reader gets to see Simon develop his powers and understanding of them along the morality of their use throughout the book via his actions and thought processes. We get to see the secrets come out about one of the characters gradually come out with a little bit more to be discovered keeping the readers attention. There is also the seemingly static character of a few people that I believe the author uses intentionally. Overall the character building throughout the story is amazing though there seems to be a few instances where its not really there.

Writing and Editing:
The book is easy to understand and comprehend. The storyline is pretty linear following no more than three characters through out the entire book. The editing is well done which is rare to see in such publishing and if there were any they would be hardly noticeable.

What I Loved About the Book:
First off he didn't pull a Robert Jordan as I affectionately call having more character POVs than you can count on your hands and feet combined. The book was action packed and never seemed to stale. There is mystery and plot twists in abundance to keep the reader engaged to want to figure out what is going on because quite frankly the author is baiting his audience really well. He gives us a taste of the magic system with little major tidbits strewn along showing that there is something deeper is a prime example.

Not to mention the main thing I love about the book is that so far there is no good or evil defined. Its all subjective to which side you sympathize with more. On one side you have an empire doing what it can to control something that will rip the world apart while another is trying to overthrow the supposed tyranny of that empire, both are believing they are doing the right thing. Then you have this other character split in the middle that's a wild card.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Don't mind the 3 star rating. I literally just finished reading this book on loan and I'm here now, getting it for keeps, along with the sequel.

The only reason I give the book three stars instead of the four or even five that it's worth is because I feel that the pacing of the book is too fast. There is a very original take on magic here, with characters that are intriguing and many interesting questions that I can't wait to have answered. The action scenes flow very well, and the detail throughout the book is enough to paint a vivid image, but not so much that it slows the books pace.

I do, however, feel that the author skips entirely too much information between scenes. There are no transition periods, the whole book takes place over a span of months yet only details a few days of the journey. One sentence you're in the Territory of Valinhall, the next you're on the other side of a forest in the real world, with little to no explanation of when, how, or why.

Other than the disorienting changes of location, this book was great and I applaud the author for their originality. Here's hoping the sequel lives up to it's potential.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
So I spend a lot of time trolling through books. Most are dissapointments but this was was actually a very pleasant suprise. I'm not much of a writer, so i'll just say the last time I bothered to put down 20 words so a book could have another rating was after I I read "Blood Song". Great book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
If you're like me and can't seem to find a decent book in the fantasy genre anymore then you should check this series out.

The best way to explain it is to say it is roughly what the Wheel of Time series would have been like if it were a trilogy and written from the point of view of someone who wasn't "the one." It's actually an interesting, and sometimes humorous, take on the usual fantasy prescription. To be honest I didn't really expect much from the book but after reading the Kindle free sample I bought it with the justification that the sample was decent enough to see where it goes from there. I'm glad I did. Worth every penny and the better part of two days that I put into reading it (and the same for the sequel).

The good:

- The author doesn't drown you in minutiae about all the crap you really don't care about when describing a scene, room, place, person, or whatever. I liked Robert Jordan but half of each of his books were describing the details of a piece of trim in the corner of the room or some such. No such thing here. You get the idea and can picture it in your mind without falling asleep or skipping pages to get to the interesting part. The story is almost always progressing as you read.

- One of the most interesting magic systems I have seen in a long long time. Simple but clever.

- The important people are believable. There is some depth and complexity to all of the important main and side characters.

The bad:

- The lack of detail does sometimes get in the way of an otherwise engrossing story. I didn't always get a good feel for what someone or something looked like. It's not enough to ruin things entirely. Just a weak point.

- The point of view changes were informative but I felt like they took away from the story subtly. The side characters who got their 15 minutes of fame weren't important (and lasting) enough to warrant an actual point of view from the perspective of the story as a whole.

- The story feels a little rough around the edges. Not first draft rough, jut not quite as polished as it could be. I feel like it could have been expanded a little to give a... richer experience. You didn't get the "the world is alive and changing" feeling that you get with some of the more accomplished authors.

Final thoughts:

Despite the bad points I listed above, the series is really quite engaging and a very good read. The author's bio says he is only 23 which would go a long way to explaining why some of the work feels the way it does. All in all, this is a very promising start in the fantasy genre for someone with a real talent for clever story. In another 10 years, with more experience, I fully expect his writing to be spectacular. It's good, just not "great" - yet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
first of all, this book has lots of interesting and original ideas. unfortunately, the writing is pretty bad and the story just drags on without seeming to go anywhere. i gave up about 75% of the way through, i just couldn't finish it.

the coolest part of the book is the house of the title, the magical mansion in another dimension that continually tries to kill the main character in order to train him and force him to develop his skills. honestly, i almost quit reading the book before i even got that far, but the concept of the house, and the story behind it, was fascinating enough to make me keep reading. once the main character left the house, that's when i lost interest again and eventually quit reading the book.

the biggest problem is that the action scenes just seem to drag on forever, and it honestly felt to me like the author was deliberately stretching out the action scenes to pad out the length of the book. action scenes should be fast and energetic, but these fight scenes drag on and repeat themselves and i started just skipping them. when simon first gets to the house, he sits in a bathtub and some goblins attack him. seriously, that scene should have been a few paragraphs at most, the goblins try to grab him, he fights them off and then jumps out of the bathtub. but it dragged on for what felt like 5 or 6 pages, they grab him and he struggles and goes underwater, and then he almost makes it out and they grab him again, and then he's trying to grab his sword, and on and on. what should have been a fast-paced scene to add some suspense turned into a boring and repetitive action that just felt stupid and tacked-on. the interminably long fight scene in the cave where he is fighting the worm thing and trying to save those kids is even worse, it goes on for like 20 pages and i gave up after 3 before just skipping to the end. this book should serve as an example of how NOT to write fight scenes.

the characters aren't that bad, but they aren't terribly interesting either. personally i think the author should have stuck completely with simon the entire book instead of switching to the other characters because their parts of the story really seemed to serve no purpose except to explain more things about the world, which isn't a good enough reason. simon is the one the reader is going to care about, so just stick with him. the most interesting character is the traveler named kai, and that's only because he's so weird and nothing he does makes sense.

i'm tempted to give this book a 1-star rating because the writing is so bad, but the basic premise behind the travelers has lots of promise and the middle part of the book (when simon is in the house) had some fun parts.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In a word - disappointing, not at all like what I was expecting from reading the other reviews. Not original, not interesting, not very good world-building, not very believable characters, and not particularly readable. After reading all the reviews I was expecting some mind-blowingly great, new epic fantasy. I started reading and was not impressed. I kept reading and began to think that the book was rather awful. Finally, I went back and looked at the reviews again. All those glowing reviews about how fantastic it was and how it was not just your cookie-cutter epic fantasy but was something new and original and unput-downable. The only thing I can conclude, if any of those reviews are legitimate, is that there are alot of junior high students who just love this book. I did not.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This isn't a 5 star book, no matter how many people rate it so.

It is a good book and I enjoyed it and I will read more but that doesn't make it worth 280 five-star reviews.

It is creative and has plenty of really interesting ideas and had it a proper editor this book might have been been a great great. Unfortunately it falls flat in a lot of areas.

The characters are the biggest let down by far. They are almost all nothing more than flat, two dimensional people that feel like nothing more than space filler. But the worst is the interactions between characters. Mostly it just feels forced. You never really get a smooth natural flow of dialogue that feels like something these people would really say to one another. Worst of all, I think, is the interactions between himself and the people of his Village later in the book. He has demonstrated some pretty incredible powers and saved a bunch of people from a horrible fate and yet he's gonna be cowed and bullied by a couple of people who talk sternly to him because they're obviously unimpressed by his power and ungrateful? Seriously?
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 13, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm not really sure how this book keeps garnering 5 star reviews. The writing itself is pretty good, though by no means phenomenal; but the plot lacked any nuance or surprise, and the protagonist had no personality. It was like the author kept writing aimlessly, with a general idea of the ending but no idea how to get there. We just kept trucking along with a protag I didn't care about, watching him be given powers because why not, so that he could fight through armies and monsters to rescue a girl he has a small crush on but doesn't really know at all.

What were the stakes? If he quits, he lives a normal life. No big deal. What keeps me invested? Honestly, I don't even really like Simon that much, and I certainly don't give a darn about "rescuing" Leah. What's the challenge he faces? Every time he's in a difficult situation, he calls on super powerful abilities that make him basically invincible. Why does he have those powers? He asked politely, chilled in a forest for a couple days, and BAM! was made into a Traveler.

It's not good story-crafting. The best that can be said for it is that the magic in the world is new, but the book on the whole is okay at best.
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